In forensic science, it is important to step back from decision-making and consider the intricacies of the individual situations. The process of looking through a broad lens should begin when codes of ethics are established based on the membership and ideals of the profession. Maintaining an open perspective coupled with awareness regarding the types of bias, where bias may be applied, and how bias may be a positive notion in the profession if controlled and acknowledged. Finally, looking at individual situations as such and considering variables may help the profession keep a broad focus and avoid overgeneralization.

Some people will hesitate when the natural human reaction is to judge a situation based on their personal morals, whereas other people will assure that many questions are asked before making accusations of someone for unethical behavior. It is important to ask questions in all situations and to create one’s own ethical judgment based upon these simple questions:

  • • Do you agree or disagree with what occurs?
  • • If there is disagreement, what compromises are available?
  • • What is the gravity of the situation, the circumstances, and the consequences?

Hopefully, this information has expanded your awareness, will allow you to observe situations more openly, and will encourage you to ask more questions. Forensic science is an ethical professional culture that operates in conjunction with legal and criminal justice professional cultures; the relationships and roles differ but do not need to divide the professions.


Ariely, D. (2008), Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Executive Office of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Report to the President: Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods. September 2016.

Matthews, C. and Gandel, S. (2015), The 5 biggest corporate scandals of 2015, Fortune, December 27.

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